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Students, Family Won’t Quit Efforts to Fix Deadly Washington Ave. Bridge

Plus translating Rep. Omar, Goodale Theater bids adieu, and Diablo Cody talks more 'Barbie' in today's Flyover news roundup.

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Washington Ave. Bridge


Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily midday digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

The Fight to Prevent Suicide on a Campus Bridge 

When former University of Minnesota student Kayla Gaebel died by suicide last year, friends and family were heartbroken. When they discovered the bridge Gaebel jumped from was a frequent suicide site, “that was really gut-wrenching,” her sister Mary Jo Weiss tells the Minnesota Daily.

The bridge in question is the Washington Avenue Bridge and, according to Hennepin Water Patrol Lt. Richard Rehman, it’s the top bridge in Hennepin County for suicides, accruing an average one to two more deaths per year than other bridges. In this excellent (and tragic) Daily story, reporters Grace Henrie and Amelia Roessler examine five years of efforts from students, families, and the university itself to prevent these incidents. That includes adding security cameras and asking police to regularly patrol the area. The proposed installation of a 9-foot safety barrier on the bridge never came to be due to “high costs, effectiveness and view obstruction.”

U of M officials have unsuccessfully lobbied the state Legislature for years for funding to improve bridge safety, the Daily reports, but it’s a tricky situation since the university doesn't actually own the bridge. “We’ve thought about how can we potentially limit the ability to use the walkway along the water at night,” University Services Vice President Alice Roberts-Davis tells the student newspaper. “Because of code issues we aren’t able to do that, so we really do just have to rely on the safety measures that are in place with the cameras, the signage and the blue lights and monitor activity on the bridge for now.” 

Rep. Omar Said What? Bad Translation Spurs Outrage.

If you’re brave enough to venture into the pile of sidewalk vomit formerly known as Twitter, you may have been forced to scroll past recent posts from angry randos regarding supposed remarks Rep. Ilhan Omar made at a Somali election party last week. "The U.S. government will only do what Somalians in the U.S. tell them to do,” she (never) said, regarding U.S. support of Somalia amid aggressive comments from Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. “They will do what we want and nothing else. They must follow our orders and that is how we will safeguard the interest of Somalia."

Omar’s speech was in Somali, and the translation appearing in the viral video is missing a lot of words. Her staff has pointed folks to this more accurate translation, and a Somali speaker at the Star Tribune concurs that this is what she actually said:

"My answer was the U.S. government will do what we tell the U.S. government to do. We as Somalis should have that confidence in ourselves. We live in this country. We pay taxes in this country. It's a country where one of your own sits in Congress. As long as I'm in Congress no one will take Somalia's sea. And the United States will not support other people to rob us. Rest assured Minnesotans. The woman you sent to Congress is aware of you and has the same interest as you."

House Majority Whip Rep. Tom Emmer, also from Minnesota, wasted no time waiting for accurate translations. He called the speech “anti-American rhetoric” and urged Omar to "resign in disgrace,” adding that he'd be requesting an ethics investigation. Elsewhere, Omar is receiving support from unlikely places, including from right-wing provocateur Candace Owens—huh!  

Downtown Dance Venue Goodale Theater to Close 

After 14 years, the Cowles Center-owned Goodale Theater announced today that it will close this spring. The 500-seat downtown Minneapolis venue, located at 528 Hennepin Ave., hosts around a dozen performances a year, including local dance troupes like Zorongo Flamenco, ARENA Dances, and Shapiro & Smith. Pandemic-related woes and the loss of funds from their administrative partner, Artspace, are cited as reasons for closing. Goodale will, however, host four different productions leading up to March 31, and organizers of the three events impacted by the closure will still receive payouts as if their performances had happened.

"This is a heartbreaking convergence of all circumstances, but our goal is to support these artists as equitably as possible,” say Cowles Center Co-Directors Joseph Bingham and Jessi Fett in a mutual statement. “Nothing replaces their ability to showcase their live performance, but we hope that lessening the financial burden will help them look towards the future.”

The McKnight Fellowships for Dancers and Choreographers, which also uses the space for administration, will continue, though it will be moving to a new location, while education and artist-in-residence programs will cease in May. The TEK BOX Theater, also run by Cowles and in the same venue, will remain available for rent.

Diablo Cody Prefers Success Now Over Prestige Yesterday

Academy Award winner, City Pages alumna, and former Minnesotan Diablo Cody has a new movie to promote, teen horror flick Lisa Frankenstein, so naturally reporters are asking her about “the one that got away”—aka Barbie. In the 2010s, the Jennifer’s Body screenwriter worked on a script for the project, which at the time had Amy Schumer in the titular role. But, in her own words, she “shit the bed,” and, ultimately, the timing wasn’t right for Barbie’s particular brand of white girl bimbo feminism. 

But if we lived in a world where we fully controlled our fate? Cody says she would gladly swap the Oscar she won for Juno years ago for the success of Barbie today. "Obviously, of course I think Greta deserved a nomination and so did Margot," Cody tells People, pointing out that despite cries of snubbery, Barbie did receive several Oscar noms this year. "But they made a billion dollars on that movie, okay? I would trade my Oscar for a billion-dollar movie right now, if I could flip a switch! Sorry if that's disrespectful to the Academy."

In Hollywood you’re only as good as your last success, and money talks more than prestige—especially if you’re a woman. "You could call it a snub, but I think that what they achieved is probably bigger than those individual nominations," she notes.

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